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Please! Don't talk to me about soft skills.

Please! Don’t talk to me about soft skills.

I’m definitely interested in a hearty conversation about essential skills, but “soft” skills? Nope.

Let’s talk about those skills that differentiate the interaction, the experience with someone, whether that of an employee/colleague or customer. They are the skills essential to business success. I see them as truly essential, and the term “soft” concerns me deeply. I worry that soft implies easy, comfortable, lenient, or worse, mushy or fluffy. (Check out the synonyms for soft, and uh-oh…)

I’ve spent my entire career studying and supporting leadership development and organizational effectiveness. Frankly, those who term the skills mentioned above as “soft”, are often the same leaders who struggle with these very same skills…those essential to exceptional service, and essential to effective leadership.

What skills do I see as essential?

  • Resilience – the ability to “bounce”, to recover, to acknowledge when a break is required, when help is needed, the willingness to be vulnerable

  • Emotional Intelligence – self-awareness, self-control, the ability to scan the environment and regulate responses, a willingness to express empathy for others

  • Listening – not just “hearing”, rather understanding and considering other’s perspectives

  • Feedback – a genuine care for a better future, and the willingness to overcome personal discomfort to provide and receive candid, considerate feedback that supports one’s development

These skills are not only essential, but they’re often difficult to practice and demonstrate with ease and grace.

The good news?

They are all develop-able!

One step at a time.

With intention, with guidance, and with someone in your corner, leading and modelling the way, we can improve all the above. And we should. Our businesses, and our relationships will reap the benefits.

Not easy, but essential. And so very worthwhile.

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